UPDATE: Christmas lights cause house fire - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Christmas lights cause house fire

Posted: Updated:
HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: The Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department responded to an early morning house fire that investigators believe may have started by faulty outdoor holiday decorations.

The emergency crews that arrived believe the weathered holiday lights sparked, causing the fire to spread quickly damaging the wooden deck within minutes.

Channel 3 talked to the homeowner that said thankfully no one was hurt.

He now wants this close call to be a safety reminder to anyone that places outdoor decorations outside.

The home owner, Charles Parent was sleeping early Sunday morning when his 15-year-old daughter woke up him up saying she saw smoke and flames coming from the back porch area.

Emergency crews arrived around 2 a.m. and quickly contained the blaze from spreading. Even though the platform that connects to the home and pool is considered a total loss, Charles is thankful no one was injured.

When the sun came up, investigators took a closer look to determine the cause.

Dallas Bay Chief, Marcus Fritts believes the colored string of lights the family used to decorate for Christmas were old and weathered. 

Chief Frits told Channel 3 roped lighting that has been exposed to the outdoors for several years can be a huge fire hazard if not checked or replaced. 

Checking the decorations before hanging them around the house is a safety precaution Charles wants other home owners to keep in mind before decorating for the holiday.

The U.S. Fire Administration say, it's a good idea to check the light strands for cracked chords, frayed ends or loose connections and ditch any old ones that don't have fuses. 

Don't use nails or screws to hang lights, they recommend using insulated hooks instead.

Make sure the lights are used for outdoor weather and turn them off before you go to sleep.

Below is a Christmas Lights Safety List to avoid any potential hazards to occur at your house.

●  Before you string up a single strand of lights, carefully check them for cracked cords, frayed ends or loose connections.

●  The combination of shorts in electrical lights and a tinder-dry tree can be deadly. There are 250 Christmas tree fires and 14 related deaths each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. So keep your tree well-watered. Not only will it stay fresh and green, but it might also keep your house from burning down.

●  Modern lights have fused plugs, preventing sparks in case of a short circuit. Ditch old strands of lights that don't have fuses and get a set of newer, safer lights.  

●  If bulbs have burned out, replace them right away, but make sure you use the correct wattage bulbs.

●  Water and debris can get into outdoor sockets, so make sure outdoor lights are plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet to reduce the risk of shorts and shocks.

●  Keep an eye on extension cords, as they can occasionally overheat. Just touch-test the cord. If it's hot, unplug it.

●  Don't use tacks, nails or screws to hang lights, which can pierce the cable and become electrified. Use insulated hooks instead.

●  When running extension cords along the ground, make sure to elevate plugs and connectors with a brick to keep snow, water and debris out of the connections.

●  Tape down any ground-level extensions cords to prevent people from tripping over them. 

●  Check to make sure lights have been rated by a testing laboratory. You can see a list of federally recognized labs on the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's website.

●  Not all lights are rated for outdoor use. Indoor lights often have thinner insulation, which which can become cracked and damaged when exposed to the elements outdoors. So make sure the ones you string up on the house belong out there.

●  Don't leave Christmas lights running when you go to bed at night or when you leave the house.

●  When you put your lights back into storage after the holidays, make sure to put them in a well-sealed container to prevent possible water damage and to block hungry rodents looking to turn the cords into lunch. My final advice? Be careful with ladders.


PREVIOUS STORY: Christmas lights caused a house to go up in flames early Sunday morning in the Dallas Bay area.

Around 2 a.m., the home owner at 1963 Thrasher Pike called 911 reporting a house fire.

The Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department responded and arrived on the scene within 4 minutes.

Fire investigators tell Channel 3 the back deck that runs the whole back side of the house was on fire but firefighters worked quickly to contain the fire to the back porch and kept the fire from spreading to the house.

Dallas Bay Fire Chief, Markus Fritts, tells Channel 3 the daughter had awoke to get a drink of water and saw the fire on the back deck.

Chief Fritts also said the cause of the fire was weathered rope lightning on the back deck.

"The roped lightning had been exposed to the outdoors for years and can be a huge fire hazard if not checked or replaced" said Fritts.

Damages are estimated at $10,000. No injuries were reported.

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